The Islamic State is seeing an increasing number of recruits streaming across Israel’s northern border to Syria. This radicalization has prompted serious attention from Shin Bet, Israel’s national security agency, USA Today reports.
Shin Bet has estimated that around 50 Israeli Arabs have left Israel to take part in the civil war. Some have even traveled to Iraq. Analysts worry that radicalized Arabs will spend time fighting in Syria and Iraq before coming back home and potentially committing domestic acts of terror. There is a shocking amount of support among Israeli Arabs for the Islamic State. As many as 17 percent do not characterize ISIS as extremist and additionally say that they are not ashamed of it, as they’re looking for someone to oppose Israel.
“Among the silent Arab public of the streets there is support, or at least some level of sympathy,” sociology professor Sammy Smooha told USA Today.
Other western countries share the same fears.
Interestingly, while western countries have had to deal with the problem of citizens leaving to fight for ISIS, just a year ago the problem was unheard of in Israel. That has now changed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that anyone who intends to join ISIS will automatically lose citizenship.
“The phenomenon of Israeli Arabs joining ISIS is relevant to the homegrown terrorist phenomenon of Muslim communities in Western countries, bad seeds being radicalized and falling into the trap of ISIS incitement via the Internet, social networks, personal connections,” Boaz Ganor, director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, told USA Today.
ISIS has seized on the conflict between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers to spur recruitment. A video released in September 2015 shows an Israeli Arab member swearing that “not one Jew will be left in Jerusalem or around it …We will continue to eradicate this disease from the world.”
As recently as December, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi warned of attacks against “Jews in Palestine.”
“We are getting closer to you day by day,” Baghdadi said in the video, according to The Jerusalem Post. “Do not think that we have forgotten about you.”
In the video, Baghdadi said that U.S. and Russian airstrikes had accomplished little in terms of weakening ISIS.
“The more intense the war against it, the purer it becomes and the tougher it gets,” Baghdadi said.
ISIS is already advancing on Jordan, a neighboring country of Israel. A senior Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday that the Israeli government is concerned that Jordan cannot hold up against the escalating onslaught.
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